Haitian Immigrants in Black America: A Sociological and Sociolinguistic Portrait

By Fiore Zéphir | Go to book overview

1
Haitians in New York City

Bèf san ke, Bondye pouse mouch pou li (When a cow has no tail, God pushes the flies away from her. Haitian proverb.)

God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb.


NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK

The fabric of American society has always been a mosaic of cultures and nationalities. The nature of this mosaic has evolved significantly throughout the years and particularly since the end of World War II due to profound shifts in the ethnic origins of immigrants. During the first half of the century, the decades of the greatest immigration period in the history of the United States, nearly nine million immigrants arrived on the shores of America. They were predominantly from Europe -- from the United Kingdom and Ireland, and from Germany and other northern European countries ( Waggoner 1988: 79; Lieberson and Waters 1988: 29). However, after the end of World War II, the character of immigration to the United States began to change; and just prior to 1965, European immigration declined somewhat as this group constituted only about fifty percent of the total immigrant population.1 In the early 1950s, immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean started joining the Europeans on American soil. In 1965, Asians also became a sizeable segment of the immigration picture after the abolishment of the Asian Exclusion Act passed in 1882. Continuous international economic and political events caused a new surge in immigration. In the 1980s an annual average of six hundred thousand immigrants entered the United States. However, unlike the earlier waves at the turn of the century, the newcomers of the post-1965 era were largely from the developing nations of the so-called Third World (Portes and Rumbaut 1990). Haitians are a constituent part of these new waves of Third World immigrants, and they too are the newest Americans.

Haitians have been attracted to the message of the Statue of Liberty, and they

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Haitian Immigrants in Black America: A Sociological and Sociolinguistic Portrait
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables and Maps vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Part I - Haitian Immigrants: Sociological Dimensions 1
  • 1 - Haitians in New York City 3
  • Notes 22
  • 2 - Premigration Experience of Haitian Immigrants 25
  • Notes 40
  • 3 - Emergence and Essence of Haitian Immigrant Ethnicity 43
  • Notes 67
  • 4 - Haitians' Responses to African Americans 69
  • Notes 96
  • Part II - Haitian Immigrants: Sociolinguistic Dimensions 97
  • 5 - Language and Ethnicity in the Haitian Immigrant Context 99
  • Notes 120
  • 6 - Patterns of Language Use of Haitian Immigrants 123
  • Notes 143
  • 7 - Haitians, American Cultural Pluralism, and Black Ethnics 145
  • Notes 160
  • Appendix - Interview Questions 161
  • Bibliography 167
  • Index 177
  • About the Author *
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